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8 timezones, 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches & 3 flashback films

It’s 6pm in San Francisco, just one more meal to eat and a few more hours to stay awake! I got up in Bristol this morning at 5am, 21 hours ago. I had breakfast at home before I caught the train and breakfast again at Heathrow. On the flight I found myself next to a guy going to the same non-profit technology conference as I am. He works for a group called People for the Equitable Treatment of Animals. Virgin Atlantic had forgotten his vegan meal, so he ended up with some gleanings of fruit and salad from First Class. I hope I didn’t offend him too much with my barbecue chicken lunch, or with the brie and ham sandwiches I had for second and third lunch.

The direct flight was almost ten hours long, so I had a mini film festival, watching three films back to back from of the interactive smorgasbord on offer. It wasn’t deliberate in my choice but, as it turned out, they all dealt with issues of relationships between children and adults and like so many stories told today, they kept moving back and forward on the timeline.

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about someone who begins life as an old man and goes through life gradually getting younger. It’s told through his diary as it is read to the love of his life at the end of her life. The earliest and latest years of his life are left largely to the imagination. It made me stop and think about attitudes to age and how people of different age relate to one another. I think it could have been handled just as well in about 2 hours rather thanĀ  the almost three which it took.
  • Slumdog Millionaire was well worth watching. Tough experiences of three children from the Mumbai slums are traced in flashback as one of them takes part in the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It mixes English and Hindi in an interesting way, but whoever did the subtitles didn’t forsee its success and plan to help people trying to read them on low resolution seat-back screens. I’ll definitely watch it again on a bigger screen.
  • The Reader is definitely not ‘family viewing’, but it does interestingly explore the relationship between a 15 year old boy and an older woman and the impact of guilt in their lives. The film is also a reminder of how much must of us take literacy for granted. The timeline does shift, but not so much as the other two which was a relief to my timezone shifting brain.

The glamour of air travel

Perhaps some of you wish you could fly more. Anyone who has travelled much by air has had some unpleasant experiences of delays, but not many of us have video evidence to prove that much of the time airlines tell us what we want to hear to keep us quiet. Thanks to Jeff at Missionary Geek for pointing out this nice mockumentary of one poor guy's miserable experience. It's a bit long and slow moving but that helps you join the fun. I wonder how he managed to have his recording every time there was an announcement.

{mosmodule video=http://www.youtube.com/v/R06dAgpmmbg}


La Vie en Rose – a French afternoon in New York City

{mosimage}Before getting to the review of this astonishing film, let me tell you about how I came to see it. On my way back from the States last Wednesday I had a seven hour layover in Newark. I don't much enjoy hanging around airports for hours, so I took the 30 minute train ride into Manhattan. Wandering up the road from Maddison Square Gardens I heard a smart-suited African speaking French into his 'cellulaire'. Wondering if he was from Côte d'Ivoire where we used to live, I followed him through a shop doorway. As my eyes adjusted to the rather greasy gloom, I noted that I had entered a little Caribbean bakery/restaurant full of black faces. I forced back the temptation to make a quick exit and joined him at the back of the queue at the counter. He turned out to be Senegalese rather than Ivorian, but was very pleased to have another chance to talk French…

After a tasty $7 lunch of 'stew chicken with rice & beans' and a
portion of fried plantains, I headed on up 8th Avenue. A few blocks
further on I came to a cinema and decided that it would be great to see
a 'movie' on a real big screen rather than the way I see most films
these days through the distinctly low-def screen built into the back of
the airline seat in front of me.

I was just in time to buy tickets for La Vie en Rose which was
starting right away. Entering the big 'movie theater' I was shocked
that at four on  a Wednesday afternoon the place was packed solid. As
my eyes adjusted and hunted for an empty seat I observed that I was
once again  the stranger – almost everyone there appeared to be over
sixty. Perhaps it was the cheap day for seniors or the fact that La Vie
en Rose had only opened a few days earlier but the film definitely
merits a wide audience.

you are put off by foreign language films with subtitles, but to have
dubbed this from French would have been a crime. It is a biopic of the
life of Edith Piaf whose theme song was La Vie en Rose – literally
'Life in Pink' but more idiomatically 'The Rose-tinted Life'. Edith
Piaf's gravelly voice and melodramatic life is superbly portrayed by
Marion Cotillard as the film works its way through her life to the
accompaniment of her distinctive songs. Of course, as in all French
films which make it to the anglophone world, there is a role for THE French Actor as
we like to call Gerard Depardieu; he is the impressario who literally
discovers 'the Little Sparrow' singing in the backstreets of

It was quite a puzzle to place each scene in
chronological order as the film jumps around through more flashbacks
and flash forwards than an entire season of Lost. Apart from
that though, La Vie en Rose is an absolute triumph, rich with the
colours of Piaf's tragic life. The entire audience stuffed damp
handkerchiefs into their pockets, rose to their feet and applauded this guaranteed
oscar winner. Piaf finished her career singing a song which she felt
summed up her life – Non je ne regrette rien! Take your friends to see this classic film and you'll have no regrets either.